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By Connie Koerth

Office Wizard

  • Medical Transcription
  • Word Processing
  • Resumes
  • Family Cookbooks

Three years ago I had a tough decision to make. I was working part-time for a local hospital doing medical transcription. At that time I had a 2-year-old son and was pregnant with baby number 2. After checking out what daycare was going to cost for my son and our new baby, I knew I couldn't continue to keep working. The cost of daycare, gas, taxes, clothing, and meals were more than what my paycheck would be. So I decided to go into business for myself in June 1997. I sent out letters and resumes to every hospital and clinic in the area and got absolutely no response. So I started to try and think of other services I could offer to supplement my medical transcription service.

I've always enjoyed computers and typing so I knew I could offer word processing and resumes. Resumes were a big hit as I live in a small town and my nearest competition was 35 to 40 miles away.

Then one day while looking for a recipe in my cluttered recipe box, I came up with the idea of making "family cookbooks". I did a little test of my own….I took all of my favorite recipes in that cluttered old recipe box and starting typing them on the computer, making categories such as main dishes, vegetables, desserts, etc. I put all the typed pages into plastic sheet protectors so they wouldn't get dirty and put them in a 3-ring binder. I made an attractive cover with some rubber stamps and ta-da! I had my own family cookbook! I loved it so much I thought I'd add this service to my business.

I put an ad in our local paper in June of 1997 when I launched Office Wizard. My first mistake was expecting the phone to ring off the hook. It didn't. Week after week went by and the phone did not ring. I was crushed. I decided I needed to do more than just ads in the paper so I designed some flyers and hung them up along with my business cards at every business place that had a bulletin board. Little by little, the phone started to ring.

One of my best marketing payoffs was putting a float in local parades. It got my name and business "out there" to hundreds of people for little to no cost. The second year I was in the parade, I had so many people come up to me afterwards and say "So YOU'RE the Office Wizard, I've seen your ad but was not sure who you were". Customers were really able to put a name with a face and finally the oh-so-popular word of mouth advertising started to work for me.

Even though I was starting to get some work, it wasn't steady. I went to see the SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) counselors and explained my entire situation. My counselor gave me some advice that has helped my business succeed to where I am today. He told me if my training was in medical transcription and there was pretty good money in providing that service, then that is what I should focus on. The light bulb went off in my head! I took his advice and sent out more letters and resumes and this time I made follow up calls. Within a week I had my first medical transcription client and finally a more steady income! I was thrilled. Persistence does pay off.

The next challenge was trying to get my work done when the kids were around. When I do medical transcription, I need it to be quiet so I can hear what the doctors are dictating. I'm not sure if I'm lucky or what, but my kids are really pretty good about being quiet when I have work to do. We live in the country so I usually send them outside where I can watch them from a nearby window or upstairs where their toys are. My office is in the dining room, as our house is too small for me to have my own separate room for my office. The biggest challenge I face with the kids is when the phone rings! It never fails….they start fighting or screaming or need a drink of water, etc. etc. Other than giving them "the look" while I'm on the phone (which doesn't work half the time anyway), I have not found a solution yet for this!

Overall though, I am very happy with my home-based business. I am proud to be a work-from-home mom and believe my kids have benefitted from having their mom around.

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